After nearly 30 hours of travel I arrived here in Ho Chin Minh City, Vietnam around midnight 22Jun17 wrung out and ready for bed. After a surprisingly sound sleep, I was ready to for my first foray into this booming metropolis. With confidence, since I had done my research, I ventured down to the hotel lobby, and, armed with Google Maps, started my walk to the PATH office to meet my new teammates. After the first block, all was going well. Then, I came to my first major intersection here. I’d seen them on YouTube and pictures on Google, but I was completely immobilized by the chaos that was ensuing. (Normal stuff to the folks around here.) Trying to sense some semblance of order, I stepped off the curb and into the street only to be sent scurrying back to my relatively safe haven on the corner. (I say relatively safe, because some of the motorbike drivers here often mistake the sidewalk for part of the street.) I found myself in the fetal position when a young scout trying to earn his merit badge for citizenship in the world took me under his wing and guided me safely across. I am becoming more proficient at traversing the streams of traffic now.
As for PATH, the team here in HCMC are an incredibly impressive group, and the work they have done already and the accomplishments from their efforts are absolutely awe-inspiring. The number of lives that have been positively impacted from the behavioral change campaign for cardiovascular disease is astounding and continues to grow each day. The level of expertise of this team is second to none, and I wonder just what contribution I will be able to make. They have warmly welcomed me, and this week the work will truly begin as I become more immersed into the project and get an even greater sense of what they have done already and what they want to accomplish in this next phase of the campaign.
William Butler Yeats once said, “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet.” Anyone who knows me knows that I like to live believing this. How blessed am I that I’ve been given this opportunity to make new friends, make a positive contribution to a community, and gain the experience of a lifetime?!